(I appear to have invented a word! Like Harriet and her wedhead!)
I’ve always found the idea, that being a stay at home Mum or an attachment parent is anti-feminist, an interesting one. In some ways you can see the angle, that staying at home or always being there for your baby are more in line with a 1950s view of the role of women. On the other hand, someone choosing to stay at home or attachment parent, despite what would seem to be pressure in the opposite direction to go back to work and do a job that is more valued by society, is surely a feminist act – just as a woman can be an astronaut, so can she looks after her kids full time.
Having said that, it’s hard to unpick the societal pressures on those decisions – I think it fair to say that you see few stay at home Dads because there are societal and cultural pressures for the father to be the provider and work. So if, as a parent, you believe that your kids are better off being raised solely by you, then it tends to come down to the mother taking on that role.
If you would rather stay at home raising your kids and rather your partner worked then, yay, feminist. If you would like to work more but your partner’s job or boss or perspective doesn’t allow for that then, boo, anti-feminist because you are being controlled by his decisions.
It happened – the day finally came when I could put off the return to work no longer – after 15 months I was returning to the grindstone.
Work was a continual spectre over my maternity leave – the guilt about returning while Elphie was so young; the length of time she’d be in daycare; how much she’d miss me; how much I would miss her. My decision to extend my maternity leave was largely powered by this guilt and the overwhelming concern that someone else would see her first steps (ironically I missed them anyway – Fred saw them in our kitchen while I was busy cooking). Now she was walking and although still breastfeeding, was becoming very independent and survived a few “Keeping In Touch” training days with grandmama so seemed like she would cope – the question was whether I would!
You see I find it much easier to write posts when I don’t have to!
This article had me pining for life in a commune. Maybe it could work in London in one of those garden squares in Notting Hill, where instead of houses having huge gardens they have small ones and then a large communal garden in the middle. When I was little we used to visit some cousins who lived on one and it was like having a park of your own to play in. Now where did I leave that £4.25 million?
Harriet recently pointed me to The Guardian’s coverage celebrating your friend and mine, Italian MEP Licia Ronzulli, and her daughter Vittoria’s two year stint within the European Parliament.
Ms Ronzulli certainly deserves respect for wrangling an infant and then toddler while still doing her job – I am not sure Elphie and I are quite cut out for it…
“How insulting is it to suggest that the best thing women can do is raise other people to do incredible things? I’m betting some of those women would like to do great things of their own.”
– Why have kids, Jessica Valenti
If you’d asked me six months ago what I thought of the above statement then I would have probably said that I wholeheartedly agreed. If I had the potential within me for greatness in some field then I wanted to achieve that greatness alongside having a family. Gone should be the days where only men with families can be successful.
But now, four months into motherhood, I am a lot more conflicted.